Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Autism Heroes 2006

2006 has been a momentous year for autism advocacy in North America. The US enacted the Combating Autism Act and in Canada the Scott-Stoffer private member motion calling for a National Autism Strategy passed in the House of Commons with only the Bloc Quebecois putting partisan politics ahead of compassion and refusing to endorse the motion. In no particular order I offer my personal list of Autism Heroes for 2006.

1. Teacher Greg Peters and the students in his political science classes at Leo Hayes High School in Fredericton for the past two years who worked tirelessly and effectively to garner support for a National Autism Strategy in Canada.

2. Andy Scott MP Fredericton NB - Andy Scott has worked for several years on a National Autism Strategy and "wheeled and dealed", lobbied and persuaded to get it under way in 2006 with private member motion M-172.

3. Peter Stoffer MP Sackville-Eastern Shore NS - Peter Stoffer has also laboured long in support of a National Autism Strategy, seconded M-172 and spoke eloquently in support of the need for a National Autism Strategy for Canada.

4. Shawn Murphy MP - Charlottetown PEI - Shawn Murphy brought his own motion calling for amendments to the Canada Health Act to specify autism and autism treatment. His efforts continued to highlight in Canada the need for a NAS.

5. Autism Society New Brunswick - the struggle for a National Autism Strategy has been long underway. The ASNB has been actively fighting and lobbying for a NAS for several years. Lila Barry, Nancy Blanchette, Jason Oldford, Luigi Rocca, Dawn Bowie, Brian Rimpilainen and many others at ASNB have fought long and hard to advance the cause of autism on the national level.

6. Andrew Kavchak, Sam Yassine, Mike Lewis, Jean Lewis, Shirley Hewko and the families in the Auton and Wynberg cases all of whom have lobbied, sued, advocated and fought for better conditions in the lives of their children and other persons with autism.

7. US Senator Chris Dodd (D) and former Senator Rick Santorum (R) for introducing and championing the Combating Autism Act. Also US President George W. Bush for signing the CAA into law.

8. New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham for his commitment to provide autism specific training to Teachers' Aides and Resource Teachers working with autistic students in New Brunswick schools.

9. Former New Brunswick Health Minister Brad Green who reversed a decision to discontinue pediatric tertiary care services for autistic children at the Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation in Fredericton and committed to the funding of a new team dedicated specifically to the provision of autism services at the Centre. Director Ron Harris at the Stan Cassidy who provided well informed leadership to those who fought for the commitment to the new autism team and who is overseeing the development of the team.

10. Clinical Psychologist and Professor Emeritus (Psychology) Paul McDonnell who received special recognition from the Autism Society New Brunswick this year for his outstanding contributions to the cause of autism in New Brunswick. Paul works with autistic children in his practice and has been a primary source of knowledge, confidence and inspiration for parents advocating for better lives for their children with autism.

11. Autistic children and adults who have made our lives better in 2006 and all years and provide joy and strength to parents in our daily lives, including my son, Conor .

1 comment:

mcewen said...

Unsung heroes, more power to them, and to you too, for humming the tune.